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Customs 3 on the tree vs floor shifter

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Chgo Sox Fan, Apr 1, 2022.

  1. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,136


    Don’t know where this speed “in the 50s” comes from. I grew up in rural Michigan in the fifties and got my license in 67. Speed limits in the mid to late fifties on the two lane highways was always 65 daytime, and by the late fifties, the interstates (or their predecessors) were 70 in Michigan and 75 in some other states. My dad was a cautious driver and always held it to two or three mph over the limit, ie 67-68 mph back in the 1950s.

    Some Western states had no absolute speed limits, and admittedly, some states had terrible roads until the Federal Government kicked in money for road construction.

    Trucks were relatively low powered compared to today, and there weren’t as many passing zones, so that did, in many cases increase trip times, but it wasn’t because the sped limits were significantly lower.
  2. My dad's 51 has a floor shift and bench seat. No need for buckets.
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  3. Remember that guy in school with the pocket protector and the leather satchel with all his schoolbooks and papers in it? (Hint: He was also the wedgie magnet.)
    He called and left you a message........ 'Said "go with the 3-speed column shifter, for sure".
  4. krylon32
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 9,027

    from Nebraska

    When I got my first car back in 1962 (53 Bel Air 2 door hrdt) The first thing I did was add a set of dual exhaust and a new Fenton floor shift because the column shifter was always jamming. I thought I was cool. If I had it to do over today I would probably leave the column shift and rebuild it.
    Joined: Nov 7, 2008
    Posts: 122


    done both, when the column shift hangs up, you can stand up to fix it, when the floor shift hangs up you have to go under the car.
    Davesblue50 likes this.
  6. klawockvet
    Joined: May 1, 2012
    Posts: 559


    I prefer a column shift and consider the 40-48 Ford column shifter and toggle key the ultimate.
    VANDENPLAS and 1952henry like this.
  7. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,273


    It is becoming that way. We can't talk about new parts on here.
  8. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 3,337


    What I said was "I think the thing you should consider is that highway speeds in the fifties were generally "in the fifties" . I didn't say "speed limits" although there were lots of different states with their own speed limits. The thing to remember is that most highways in the fifties were only 2 lanes and passing required one to cross into an oncoming traffic lane in order to pass and maintain higher speeds. There were also a sufficient number of older cars traveling the roads that did not have higher speed sustainability. The condition of the roads was also a concern as you mentioned. While newer cars with modern overhead valve engines were becoming available/popular, speeds began to rise somewhat. That gave rise to the legendary "motorcycle cops" who wrote many tickets in the fifties. A car such as a 6 cylinder 1950 Chevy had about 100hp. The trucks had 80 mph speedometers.....not sure if the cars were higher. If the maximum rpm of the engine was say 5,000 rpms and it actually went 80 mph......then 65 mph would have required 4,000 rpms. Lets also say that my calculations are "pie in the sky". At any rate the little 6 cylinder will struggle mightily to keep up with traffic on todays expressways.

    Here is an exerpt from the State of Ohio and its speed limit history. If you do some checking you will find that there was not much concensus between states and national speed limits during the fifties. The roads, the cars, and the police were more of a speed controlling factor in the early fifties when the OPs car was built.

    Re: Route 66 speed limits in 1950's?
    « Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 04:54:41 PM »
    Found this for maxinum speed limits in the State of Ohio:
    Here is the history for the top speed limit in the state.
    •1926 - 35 mph
    •1940 - 45 mph
    •1941 - 50 mph
    •1942 - 35 mph (x)
    1945 - 50 mph
    1958 - 60 mph
    •1963 - 70 mph
    •1974 - 55 mph (y)
    •1987 - 65 mph
    •2011 - 70 mph (z)

    Note: Anyone who drives today knows that 70 mph will only get you by in the slow lane.

    Motorcycle Cops 001.jpg

    Bottom line is that if someone wants to drive on todays highways they need to help those old low powered vehicles out with a modern overdrive setup. All it takes is one long trip on a highway to see the benefit of better gearing.:)

    Edit: Clarification....The speed limit example above did not reference Route 66 but was a reply saying that while it wasn't Route 66, this was his states history.
  9. 55blacktie
    Joined: Aug 21, 2020
    Posts: 789


    My 3100 had three-on-the-tree, and none of the above applied. No doubt, I would have been a better student if they had.
    The Shift Wizard likes this.
  10. 55blacktie
    Joined: Aug 21, 2020
    Posts: 789


    What's wrong with the slow lane?
  11. Lover = column shift, Racer = floorshift, make your choice Lover or Racer.
    lippy likes this.
  12. I like them on the column, makes cruising with a "special someone" a bit easier :D
  13. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 6,736

    from Ks

    I am a lover and a racer. Never got outrun on the street with my L-79 3 spd column shift Nova. Friend of mine had a 69 427 tri-power corvette. He use to tell me he would look in his mirror about 660 feet out and say, Shit, here comes those headlights. That was second gear coming on. :)
    Joined: Jun 6, 2007
    Posts: 4,865


    I also retired 22 years ago, have three garages with six hot rods, three drag cars, and love motorcycles and airplanes.
    All my hot rods have column shifters. [OK, just kidding about the column shifters.]
  15. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 8,851

    from Michigan

    Column or floor shift...
    First thing to check if your standard transmission isn't shifting as good as it should...
    Your clutch.
    hotrodjack33 likes this.
  16. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 27,371

    Staff Member

    sounds like you don't really have any idea what this place is about.... all the "back handed" comments seem to prove it. In case you didn't know, this place is about re living hot rod history from 65 and back, of course we don't talk about new (modern) parts here... pretty simple really. this place has a very narrow focus by design and is not for everyone.....
  17. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 8,851

    from Michigan

    "It's becoming that way."

    It's always been that way.
    I hope it'll remain that way.
  18. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,273


    Some people on here have a very narrow focus. I'll put myself in time out now.
    Davesblue50 likes this.
  19. Bigmac48
    Joined: Apr 3, 2017
    Posts: 581

    from Dundalk Md

    Mine still 3 on the tree , i really like it , most people I run into think it’s pretty cool that it’s still there , if it’s working fine I’d leave it , most put em on the floor when something’s wrong with column shift ,linkage,etc. Bench seat and 3 on the tree !! And ask Bret Chrismer about his 4 speed on the column , that’s a whole other story !!!
    tr_rodder and Moriarity like this.
  20. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 8,851

    from Michigan

    Focus? Ford Focus? Those aren't allowed either. Narrowed or otherwise.
    Very slowly now... 100 times...
    1965 and earlier
    1965 and earlier
    1965 and earlier...
    And then clean the chalkboard and put up the chairs and you can go to recess with the rest of the children.
    VANDENPLAS and Moriarity like this.
  21. Fabulous50's
    Joined: Nov 18, 2017
    Posts: 504

    from Maine

    Personally I love a column shift that is tight and somewhat precise.

    Cruiser= column
    Hot rod= floor

    Just as long you you have 3 pedals I have no judgment. With only 2 well....... 20210819_085435.jpg

    This is in overdrive getting 18mpg with an FE.....
    VANDENPLAS, tr_rodder and lippy like this.
  22. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 6,736

    from Ks

    And as far as the 3 spd -4 spd deal, there were a lot of very fast 3 spd cars around back when. On the floor and on the column. Lots of 426 wedge and 413 mopars with a 3 spd. You might get pulled out of the hole by a 4 spd, but that 2nd gear kept that engine winding while the 4 spd guy was losing time shifting, you were gaining on him. I had a lot of guys who would buy a 3 spd car new cause that one shift won a lot of street races. Ever wonder why the powerglide was so successful in drag racing? One shift thats it. Just got to have the engine. Like was said, a good tight shifter on the column and a savvy guy behind the wheel was all you needed. Been fun but I'm done. :D
  23. Rusty Heaps
    Joined: May 19, 2011
    Posts: 893

    Rusty Heaps

    It’s a lot harder to get your girl to slide over next to you when you have bucket seats and a floor shifter! Just sayin’!
  24. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 3,337


    Nothing wrong with the slow lane if you are driving a vehicle that has either enough power/gearing to even keep up with the traffic in the slow lane. I once bought a large 14' sheetmetal brake up in Michigan and had to transport it back to Ky on a car trailer. This was about 15 years ago, and traffic is even worse today. Anyway, the brake could not go any farther forward on the trailer. MAX speed for me with this load was 55 mph and then it would begin to waggle............
    I got in the slow lane and drove between 50/55 with my emergency blinkers flashing. Any hint of exceeding 55 produced an immediate reminder for me. Off and on it rained.
    The thing that you have to realize today, rain or shine is that the slow lane is the turf of a blue million semi trucks. When you are speed limited on the X-way and in the slow lane, you will constantly be looking in your rear view mirror at the front of some semi who is waiting for other semis to go by in the speed lane so they can go around you too. Then there will be the people distracted by their cell phones or children or just stay on your bumper for whatever reason.
    Back to my brake hauling saga. When its raining, and the big semis go around you, you are blinded by the water they shed. Over and over this happened. You don't really realize how many semis there are on the road till you are the one being passed. In the OPs case, he may also be retaining his vacuum wipers. Even my electric wipers did not help. I was constantly at the mercy of the elements. During a particularly hard downpour, a couple semis passed and blinded me yet again. Apparently a third semi didn't see my flashers or the other trucks ......not really sure what he didn't see, but suddenly I heard his horn right next to me and my head swiveled to look. It looked like I could reach out my drivers window and touch his wheel. Scared the crap out of me and I whipped into the emergency lane.........still blind as a bat. Praying there weren't any stalled vehicles or people in front of me cause I could barely make out the guard rail. As I went into the emergency lane, the semi continued into my lane and up beside the other semis. I think he swerved into my lane to avoid running into the back of the other semis. I guess I went a quarter mile in the emergency lane before he cleared me and I came back out on the road.
    The slow lane ain't no "safe haven" when your vehicle doesn't keep up with the flow, and that was 15 years ago. Today, if you don't maintain 70 in the slow lane you WILL be impeding traffic.
    Thats in I imagine there are other states that are worse than us about keeping up with traffic.
    So, there is nothing wrong with the slow long as someones vehicle can keep up with todays version of what slow is.:)

    Michigan Brake 002.jpg
    Michigan Brake 018a.jpg
    VANDENPLAS and Fabulous50's like this.
  25. 41 coupe
    Joined: Nov 29, 2009
    Posts: 373

    41 coupe
    from bristol pa

    The 55 in my Avatar is a 3 on the tree. I love it. It has been in the family since new. When I got it 4 years ago it had not been driven in quite a while and the first thing I had to do was rebuild the shift leakage. It shifts like new now.
  26. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 5,732


    This might be one of those things where time has changed the perception of certain things. I see older guys on here saying that column shifted 3 speeds were lame, and equated it to having a 4 door. I understand the 4 door thing but I have not heard the same when discussing column shifters. Personally, I think column shifters are cool, if for no other reason than that it's something that is so uniquely "old", and specific to an old car. Plenty of new cars have floor shifters, or at least shifters that come out of the console. All manual transmissions made in the last 30 years have been on the floor. A column shifter is something I think is super cool. But I can understand how perhaps back-in-the-day, that was considered cheap or lame.
    finn likes this.
  27. I have 3 on the tree in my avatar. Took my grandson and his buddy riding once when they were about 13. First time for the buddy. Went a few miles and the buddy kept watching me drive. Finally turned to my grandson, pointed to the shift lever on the column as I went through the gears and said "what's with all of that?". Three on the tree is a classic thing of the past!!
  28. tiredford
    Joined: Apr 6, 2009
    Posts: 561

    from Mo.

    Column shifters are for your grampa
    hotrodjack33 likes this.
  29. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,136


    Depends on the timeframe: upgrading your old floor shift three speed to a column shift 40-48 Transmission was popular back in the late forties all the way through the fifties.

    With the introduction of the T10 in the Corvette in 1957, and the Chevy sedan a while later, the tide began to turn.

    I recall reading that the ubiquitous floor shifter conversions weren’t even allowed under NHRA rules in the fifties. It would be interesting to do a little research as to when aftermarket three speed floor shift kits started to be advertised in the magazines of the day.

    The resurgence of factory floor shifted there speeds most likely began with the 55 Thunderbird and 56 Corvette. Maybe some Studebakers in there, too. I doubt you will find any ads for aftermarket kits until around 1958, and probably later. Four speeds really didn’t become commonplace until the dawn of the Muscle car era, and the ubiquitous Corsair and off topic Mustang really cemented the return. By the mid sixties, column shifted stick shifts had decome old men’s cars, ant that’s probably the era most of us remember.

    Truth is, though, that three on the tree probably has a longer history of being traditional than floor shift conversions.

    Anyone know when the Hurst Synchro Lock three speed shifter was released? That’s probably the only one that was worth a crap.

    The Floor shifted four speed, or three speed aftermarket shifter conversion is more of a muscle car era thing than a traditional Hot Rod item.
  30. cabong
    Joined: Nov 29, 2005
    Posts: 816


    When I got my Model A with the floor shifter in place, I couldn't get in it, or drive it once I got in..... Then I remembered, back in the late 40's when my A was first built, the cats meow was to get rid of the floor shift, and do a column.... So I did.... Model A Dash panel 003.JPG Model A Dash panel 012.JPG
    tr_rodder likes this.

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